ABSTRACT

Kent County Council covers an area of nearly 3,800 km2 and the population of Kent is just over 1.5 million. The county is divided into fourteen districts, whose populations tend to be focused in medium-size towns such as Canterbury and Maidstone. The port industry – including ferry and other portrelated activity – is a major generator of wealth and employment in the county. There are six ports of significant size, together with many other smaller port facilities, and over the past twenty years Kent has secured a growing market share of UK port activity. The opening of the Channel Tunnel has intensified Kent’s role as the primary gateway for travel between Britain and mainland Europe, and has had implications for investment and development pressure within the county. The construction of the Channel Tunnel was one of the catalysts which led Kent County Council to sign a cooperation agreement with its French equivalent, the Regional Council of Nord-Pas de Calais in 1987, to establish a basis for working together in the future. All these factors have encouraged Kent to promote itself as the ‘European County’. Kent has attracted over £60 million of European funding since 1987 for a wide range of projects. £25 million of Structural Fund assistance has been targeted at the Thanet Objective 2 area under two successive programmes. Other important European initiatives and programmes operating in Kent are INTERREG (both I and II, reflecting the cross-border relationship established between Kent and Nord-Pas de Calais), and SAVE (encouraging energy efficiency and facilitating the creation of the East Kent Energy Agency). This chapter is structured on profiling the local authority, on the European content of development and other plans, on the range of funding Kent has received and its purpose, and other important EU-influenced activity.